Senator Iroegbu and Kuni Tyessi
The United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) has raised the alarm that global deaths of newborn babies remain alarmingly high, particularly among the worldâ€™s poorest countries with Nigeria ranked 11th.
The UNICEF Executive Director, Ms. Henrietta H. Fore, disclosed this in a new report on newborn mortality released yesterday.
Fore said every year, 2.6 million newborns around the world do not survive their first month of life, adding that â€œone million of them die the day they are born.â€
Globally, according to her report, in low-income countries, the average newborn mortality rate is 27 deaths per 1,000 births, In high-income countries, the rate is three deaths per 1,000.
Â She stated that â€œwhile we have more than halve the number of deaths among children under the age of five in the last quarter century, we have not made similar progress in ending deaths among children less than one-month old.
â€œGiven that the majority of these deaths are preventable, clearly, we are failing the worldâ€™s poorest babies.
â€œThe report notes that eight of the 10 most dangerous places to be born are in sub-Saharan Africa, where pregnant women are much less likely to receive assistance during delivery due to poverty, conflict and weak institutions. With the newborn mortality rate of 29 deaths per 1,000 births, the global estimates rank Nigeria as the 11th highest on newborn deaths.â€
In the same vein, the UNICEF Nigeriaâ€™s Representative, Mr. Mohammed Fall, noted that in the recent Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) conducted by Nigeria Government in 2016/17, the rate of newborn deaths per 1000 births is 37.
According to Fall, this national average hides the differences between the 36 states and the slow progress in some of them.
Â â€œA fair chance in life begins with a strong, healthy start. Unfortunately, many children in Nigeria are still deprived of this.
â€œMICS data tell us that the trend is improving but urgent action needs to be taken for Nigeria to reach the Sustainable Development Goals. It cannot afford to fail its newborns today,â€ he said.
Â Fall further stated that â€œmore than 80 per cent of newborn deaths are due to prematurity, asphyxia, complications during birth or infections such as pneumonia and sepsis. These deaths can be prevented with access to well-trained midwives during antenatal and postnatal visits as well as delivery at a health facility, along with proven solutions like clean water, disinfectants, breastfeeding within the first hour, skin-to-skin contact, proper cord care and good nutrition. However, a shortage of well-trained health workers and midwives means that thousands donâ€™t receive the life-saving support they need to survive.â€
This month, UNICEF Communications Specialist, Ms. Eva Hinds, said the UN agency is launching â€˜Every Child Aliveâ€™, a global campaign to demand and deliver solutions on behalf of the worldâ€™s newborns.
In the same vein, Hinds said the UNICEF, through the campaign, is issuing an urgent appeal to governments, health care providers, donors, the private sector, families and businesses to keep every child alive by â€˜recruiting, training, retaining and managing sufficient numbers of doctors, nurses and midwives with expertise in maternal and newborn careâ€™.
They also include â€˜guaranteeing clean, functional health facilities equipped with water, soap and electricity, within the reach of every mother and baby; making it a priority to provide every mother and baby with the life-saving drugs and equipment needed for a healthy start in life and empowering adolescent girls, mothers and families to demand and receive quality careâ€™.